MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Opinions differed on the proposed police consolidation between Mount Kisco and Westchester County at a recent Village Board of Trustees meeting, the second with detailed public comment in less than a month.
Individuals who spoke in favor at the June 30 meeting mentioned increased manpower. For details of the proposal, click here.
John Bodie, an assistant Mount Kisco fire chief who spoke for himself, not the Fire Department, called it the “right thing,” citing manpower.
Joel Story, who is president of the Mount Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corps and also spoke for himself, said there have been “very vocal opponents to this initiative” but added that he does not believe they represent the majority of the population of Mount Kisco. Story addressed manpower several times in his remarks and explained that the increased presence would make him feel safer. He also mentioned ambulance workers’ safety.
Speaking in an interview after the public discussion, Sgt. Joseph Spinelli, president of the local Police Benevolent Association, noted that he gave the village board copies of letters from citizens in favor, as well as petition copies signed by more than 420 people in support, which includes residents and people who work locally. Spinelli, speaking on behalf of the PBA, has endorsed the proposal.
Some speakers voiced concern or called for a referendum on the matter.
Louis Terlizzi, a lifelong Mount Kisco resident and local police lieutenant, was among those who requested a referendum. While he spoke favorably about the county, he expressed concern about the long term if the deal happens and if it does not work out. His wife, Kim Terlizzi, spoke earlier in the meeting, also in support of a referendum.
Addressing the issue after Kim Terlizzi made some of her remarks, Village Attorney Whitney Singleton stated why one is not required. A referendum, according to Singleton, may only happen if provided for by law. The only way that could be done is if there is a local law authorizing abolishing the police department. He explained that the police department is not being abolished. Instead, there would be an inter-municipal agreement (IMA).
Another skeptic, Patric Kilkenny, mentioned several items, including receipt of a draft version of the proposal, which he said he got from the county. He was critical of the draft not being available to the public and explained that it had more information than a PowerPoint presentation given at the board’s June 16 meeting.
Later in the board meeting, trustees unanimously approved three measures connected to a deal, which has yet to be finalized. One is an authorization for Singleton to work on a draft IMA, while the second is a new agreement with the PBA, retroactive to 2009 and running through 2016. The third involves changing a mutual aid pact to let the village and county have training and operational transition. Additionally, Mayor Michael Cindrich confirmed that a county takeover of dispatch is a possibility.
The PBA deal calls for a 1.75-percent salary increase for several years, along with a 4-percent stipend in connection with a transition, Cindrich confirmed, and the agreement is contingent upon a consolidation deal.